It is no secret that people like doing business with people they know, and one of the best places for getting to know someone is a golf course. But, if you think large business deals or sales are made on a golf course, think again. More commonly, a golf outing is a catalyst for developing and enhancing relationships that lead to business transactions.
Business-golf expert Debbie Waitkus offers ten tips on how to make the most of your next corporate outing:
1) Think about the player(s) you’re inviting and your objectives. Remember that one of the best things you can do for a client or prospect is introduce him or her to a prospect.
2) Pick the right event/setting. The venue you choose should match the skill level of your playing partners (and yours). A WOW! golf course may be too challenging and not fun. If the outing is a golf tournament, verify the playing format and be sure it fits your guests. A scramble might be preferable to a best-ball or shamble format, for example.
3) Introduce the players to one another prior to the outing, and give each one information about the course and /or event. Consider sharing websites and LinkedIn contacts.
4) Bring a gift for your playing partners. A sleeve of balls with your logo is always appropriate. Check with your marketing department for branded items left over from other events. The gift can be anything that is thoughtful. You could also buy the first round of drinks, even if it is bottled water.
5) Help others have their best round possible. This has to do with adhering to proper golf etiquette — not talking when another player is hitting; standing to the side rather than directly behind a player who is hitting; turning your cell phone off; not walking through another player’s putting line on the green. In other words, don’t be the scapegoat for someone’s bad shot.
6) If your group is playing different sets of tees, join your partners on their teeing ground. This creates opportunities for conversation to and from the tee, builds camaraderie and puts extra eyes on the direction tee shots take, which helps pace of play.
7) Bring business cards. Always keep a stack in your golf bag. And an extra pen or pencil. You can make notations on a player’s business card — a reminder about something you spoke about, or an idea to bring up after the round.
8) Show your best self. You are observing others, but they are observing you too. Mind your mannerisms, discussion topics, even your risky shots (you can be seen as a risk-taker, but never a fool). Dress appropriately. And especially be careful with the amount of alcohol you consume. Alcohol and warm temperatures are a bad combination. Remember that the more you drink, the looser and louder the conversation.
9) Maintain a good Pace of Play. Nobody likes a straggler.
10) Manage your time. This is important in a couple ways: first, be on time — people who show up late with their hair on fire and a mouthful of excuses are neither amusing nor endearing; second, don’t leave immediately after the round. The post-round time is your opportunity to explore synergies for business, follow up on a specific issue discussed during the round, or to plant a seed or schedule an appointment. Think of this time as your chance to take a big swing and follow through! That’s how you Turn Golf into Gold®.